Aipan is one of the traditional art (painting form) of Kumaon. It has great social, cultural and religious significance. Aipans are known by different names and is in popular in many parts of India with larger variations. It is called Alpana in Bengal, Satiya in Gujrat, Rangoli in Maharashtra, Chowk pooran in UP, Kolam in south India, Madne in Rajasthan, Arichan in Bihar and Bhuggul in Andhra.
In Uttarakhand, aipan are
popularly drawn at places of worship, houses, and main entry doors of house and in front courtyard. Some of these artistic creations have great religious importance and these are drawn during particular religious ceremonies or auspicious occasions such as marriages, Threading ceremony, naming ceremony etc. to perform rituals while others are for particular God / Goddess and a few for aesthetic look.
I do not know if there is any institution teaching this art but it is carried over generation by generations and mothers pass it on to their daughters and daughter in laws. However, with the wind of modernization blowing, this art is depleting fast. Our younger generation, born and brought up in cities outside Uttarakhand might not be familiar with it. As a humble attempt to spread awareness of our cultural heritage does not get eliminated in the wind of modernization, I have collected information from various sources and posted here for the benefit of everyone.
Traditional Aipan The traditional aipan of Kumaon are drawn in linear art, geometrical designs, Flowers or imprints. These are mostly drawn for decorative purpose.
Aipan of Door Steps
Doorsteps of the house are decorated with this kind of aipan. These are beautifully designed decorative aipan with great aesthetic value. The door steps are decorated with this type of aipan in combination with ‘Vasudhara’ the vertical lines made by dripping the ‘biswar’ (Rice floor solution made by soaking the rice and then grinding it which is used for drawing aipan).
Vasudhaara- Pooja Vedika, door steps of house, Place of worship, Tulsi (A structure made around the Tulsi Plant) etc. are decorated with vasudhara. Without Vasudhara, Aipan are considered incomplete. These are made y painting the place with ‘Geru’ (filtered red colour soil) and thereafter making vertical lines by dripping ‘Bishwar’ (soaked rice powder). The dripping of ‘biswar is carried out by Anamika (Ring finger?). These are drawn in the blocks consisting lines in odd numbers like 5, 7, 9 or 11.
–Swastik has great significance in Aipan. It is drawn in some form or other during most of the religious rituals as swastik in Hindu mythology r
epresents all Gods and Goddess’, known or unknown. If someone does not have the knowledge of the occasion specific Aipan, Swastik is religiously accepted as substitute. Swastik represent the creation and progress. All four arms of swastik inspire to move forward. Thus swastik is the symbol of marching ahead for success, towards success with success.
Different lines joining at rectangle representd ifferent religions. These all lines join each other at the center which is the place for ‘Omkar’. The lines are surrounded by dots, which too have a special significance.
Any Aipan without dots are considered incomplete and inauspicious. During drawing the Aipan, one have to take care that the group or block of lines in traditional Aipan should end with the dots.
Aipan without dots are drawn on the 12th day of some ones death (Peepal Pani or Shanti Path). On third day, these Aipan without dots are removed and fresh aipan with dots are drawn showing end ofm ourning period.
Astadal Kamal-This aipan is drawn at the place where ‘Havan’ is performed. It is an octagonal geometry with lotus petals and a swastik is drawn at the center.
Lakshmi Padchinha- On Deepawali day, footprints of Goddess Lakshi are drawn from main entrance of the house to place of worship.
Lakshmi Peeth- This aipan is drawn at the poojasthal (place of worship) wherew orship of Goddess Lakshi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is performed on particularly on Diwali day.
Bhuiyan- Bhuiyan refers to the negative & harmful powers or bad omen. This is drawn on outer side of a ‘Soop’ which is generally a very ugly and bad looking sketch of a demon. On the inner side of the ‘soop’ Lakshi-Naranyan are drawn. On a particular day, this ‘soop’ is beaten with a sugarcane stick at every room and corner of the house. This refers to ousting of bad omen, ill fate or negative powers andw elcome of Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshi, the God / Goddess of happiness and prosperity.
Dhuliarghya Var Chauka- At the time of Dhuliarghya, the bridegroom is made to stand on the Chauka when introduction and welcome of bridegroom is performed by chantingv edik mantra.
Acharya Chauka- Acharya, ‘the kulguru’ who performs the marriage rituals from bridegroom’s side stands on this chauka at the time of dhuliarghya.
Janeo- At the place of ‘Janeo’ or threading ceremony, drawing this aipan is mandatory. This drawing has 15 dots in the center. Traditional it is also drawn at the place where men change their ‘janeo’ on Raksha Bandhan day.
It is drawn at the place of worship and yajna. Bhadra are of various forms depending upon the number of dots such as 12 bindu bhadra, 19 Bindub hadra, 24 Bindu bhadra and 36 Bindu bhadra etc. Jyuti Sixteen mother goddess’ are worshiped after worshiping Lord Ganesha for trouble free execution of any task in hand orc eremony
undergoing. These are called ‘matrika’ or ‘Jeev Matrika’ or ‘Jyuti’ in kumaoni. To perform pooja of these goddess’, they are drawn on wall or on a board or paper now a days. Lord Ganesha is drawn in right side and matrika in left side.
Namkarna Chauki- Naming ceremony of a newborn is held on eleventh day. This is the first time when the baby is exposed to sun / open atmosphere (Surya darshan). This alpana is drawn in the
courtyard where the surya darshan is performed.